Creating a Character 101

Having trouble making an interesting character worth reading about? Fear no more for this is a guide to help you make an irresistible character!

STEP ONE- Naming your character.

In my opinion, naming a character is one the most important things during the development stages. A name should roll off the tongue, for example try out these names to give yourself a general idea

Douglas Cameron

Jack Ryan

Jasmine Jones

Jenny James

Lily Collins

Michael Johnson

Note how they roll off the tongue, you want the names to be simple but not too extravagant at the same time, in order to do this you could find an uncommon first name and pair it with a recognized surname or vice versa.

Another thing you could consider doing is putting little easter eggs in your character’s name, for example I’m writing a book where the main character is directly related to a moon goddess so I named my character Luna, which means moon. Similarly you can hide these little things in your writing and allow the readers to do a bit of investigating on their own.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a name just google a baby naming website and scroll through it, you’re bound to come across something, same goes for surnames. Once you find a name, test it out, see whether or not you like the sound of it and pay attention to the meaning, many readers enjoy finding those little surprises.

STEP TWO-Appearance

Make sure you have your character’s appearance planned out, the more detail you provide the reader; the easier it is for them to visualize the character. If you’re having trouble figuring out how your character looks in general, go online and type in something like ‘men with black hair’ or ‘girls with brown eyes’. Literally hundreds of results will pop up and you’ll probably find a picture that you think looks like your character.

Now once you have your image if chose to look for one, add detail to that character. Are they tall, short, slim, fat, dark or light skinned, what color are their eyes and hair, what’s their race, things in general, these are just the basics.

Moving on, what type of features do they have? Are they sharp and intimidating, soft and gentle or maybe somewhere in between. Do they normally have a serious or closed off expression? Or are they open and always smiling?

Make sure you define these features clearly; they give the reader a sense of the character’s overall personality as well as form a mental image in their mind.

Next, give their appearance, for lack of a better word, character. Characters can’t be perfect; they have to something that makes them different, whether it’s good or bad. They should have some sort of unique feature, maybe a special ability or power. They could have an oddly shaped birthmark or an intricate tattoo, they could have a mole the tip of their nose, strange hair or eye colors, a scar running the length of their jaw or some other part of their body, it’s up to you has their creator.

Now that we have physical appearance, let’s talk about clothes. Remember to pick something practical and relative to the situation a character’s in, a girl fighting a dragon can’t be wearing a bathing suit and a guy running an Olympic race shouldn’t be wearing a sweater vest and jeans. Keep their situation in mind and dress them appropriately.

STEP THREE- Personality

The biggest one of them all let me tell you right now if you fail in this department consider the whole book a fail.

People don’t want to read about two dimensional characters, they want a character that feels all the emotions they are feeling. A character can’t be hit with the death of someone close to them and not react, that’s just not how it works.

Branching off from there, your character should have traits that define them and make them feel real. Their traits should be relatable for the reader, for example your character could be hot tempered or sarcastic. Maybe they’re very generous and caring or closed off and introverted. It’s up to you, but once you decide on a personality type don’t stick to it like glue. Have the character do things that are out of their comfort zone: maybe they don’t like to talk about their past. They could be bad at drawing and decide to take an art class with their friend just to make them happy, there are countless things that you can do and these little moments are what make the characters who they are. It makes them three dimensional and interesting; you don’t want them to be predictable, that’s just boring.

However, keep in mind that your character shouldn’t do something completely random or out of line. Remember to use their original personality as a base, if they’re introverted and shy you can’t have them go up to someone, grab them and start dancing for no apparent reason. If you want them to do something outrageous, go ahead but build up to that moment don’t just have it appear out of nowhere.

Make them imperfect, use clashing personality traits: angry and sad, happy but confused. This adds on to their personality and makes them alive because humans don’t follow a set pattern of thoughts and emotions and neither do characters.

Well that’s all I have for you, let me know if you want another article on this topic or if you want me to expand on a step or point.

So, what did you think?

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